14 May

4 Reasons Modern “SEO” Is Really All About Content Marketing

For years, search engine optimization has been a field all of its own, a professional niche of content writers and web analytics experts that relied on short-form keywords, link building exercises, and other common practices to boost Google rank and improve traffic. But traditional SEO was never really about producing high quality, unique content. Instead, it was a mathematical model that tended to favor almost the sometimes absurd and carefully calculated placement of keywords and links, oftentimes sacrificing quality. 6-best-practices-for-modern-seo-c87c954b01

The Downfall of SEO Prior to 2014

In fact, traditional SEO content is often generic, copycat fare, the work of SEO writers who claim they can produce content in any and all subjects, but who don’t have a deep enough knowledge in any given field to truly produce the kind of rich content that most people would be interested in reading or sharing. In other words, while most SEO writing has been able to accumulate enough clicks and traffic to rank on Google, it has been distinctly less successful at retaining reader interest for more than a few minutes, let alone at converting those readers into followers or customers.
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25 Mar

Why Icons Are Essential In Small Business Marketing + [FREE Download] 10 Pack Icons

Promotional Graphic Final_V2 When most people think of marketing or advertising, they think of expensive television commercials, memorable radio spots, eye-catching newspaper or magazine advertisements, or even entire websites or social media feeds. In essence the average person thinks of the complete marketing concept rather than assessing the different pieces that went into building that concept. The building blocks of advertising can be different depending on the ad campaign, ranging from text to sounds to pictures and beyond. One of the most common building blocks, however, is the use of symbols. Small visual symbols can serve a range of different purposes in the marketing world, from spicing up a webpage design to telling customers where to click in order to perform various essential functions. The key functions of symbols in marketing are outlined below, and each is essential to a successful marketing campaign.

1. Symbols help to build your brand:

This might go without saying, but really think about it. In many cases, symbols are synonymous with a business’s brand. When consumers think of virtually any major brand, from McDonalds to Mercedes, from Apple to Twitter, and from Shell Gasoline to Nike, the first thing that pops into their minds is an image of the symbols those companies use to represent their brands. The McDonalds arches, the Mercedes star, the namesake objects from Apple and Shell, the Nike swoosh, and the Twitter bird, these are all iconic symbols that are so ingrained in our everyday culture that they play a legitimate role in the way we perceive the companies that created them. Heck, there are even mobile games out there based on identifying brands from their symbols.
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25 Feb

2 Programs to Help Small Biz Owners “DIY” their Graphic Design for Serious Savings

Once upon a time, it was okay for websites to look amateurish. Back in the 1990s, website design was at a rudimentary stage at best. Those who used the internet did so to find content that they couldn't get anywhere else, but they didn't expect it to look good. Certain relics of this age of website design – like the official Warner Bros webpage for the 1996 film, Space Jam – show just how comical a lot of pre-millennial web designs looked. More important than that, however, these old, untouched sites serve as a reminder of how much stock most modern internet users put in visual flare. Today, not only do web managers have to provide compelling and unique content, but they also need to do it in a way that looks good. These 2 programs are certain to help any small business owner "DIY" their graphic design for some serious savings in the long run, especially when it comes to creating graphics and content for your social platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest, and many other marketing arenas.  woman-small-business-work-laptop

“A Generation of DIY Graphic Designers”

For these reasons and more, the internet has brought about a generation of do-it-yourself graphic designers – people who (for good reason) don’t want to spend the time or money that it would take to become trained in the ways of Photoshop and InDesign, but who also want to be able to add eye-catching visuals to their websites. Luckily, the fact that there are so many people who are teaching themselves the basics of graphic design has created an environment where it is easy to maintain a blog or website with great looking visuals. A wide range of programs – from template-based website builders to free graphic design software – have been developed in recent years to help nurture this burgeoning scene, and most of those programs are built with two primary qualities in mind: first, they are simplistic and easy to use, with a very manageable learning curve; second, they provide visual results that look great without breaking the bank. Check out our reviews of them below!
14 Feb

6 Do’s and Don’ts for Small Businesses and Holiday Marketing

From Thanksgiving and Christmas to Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July, a small business should always be building a list of ideas that could liven up its holiday marketing promotions. However, before any business starts off on a holiday marketing campaign, there are several do’s and don’ts that should be part of the core program in order to streamline efforts and turn any given holiday into a booster for company growth and public good will. Valentines-Day-for-Small-Business-Marketing

#1 - Do Consider All of the Holidays

Many think of just the big fall and winter holidays when it comes to marketing strategy, but there are many occasions throughout the year that small businesses can use to gain extra momentum. Make it a point to think beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas with your holiday marketing in 2014. For instance, incorporate Valentine’s Day messages into your newsletters, social media, and blog posts to gain client interest, or offer limited-time promotions for St. Patrick’s Day to drum up customer engagement.

#2 - Don’t Try to Please Everyone

As with any type of marketing, your holiday marketing plans need to be focused and goal-driven. Since holiday appreciation is virtually universal, many small businesses make the mistake of believing that they can be everything to everyone around major holidays. This isn’t the case, so focus on your prime market and think of a holiday marketing tactic that will engage the people most likely to buy your product or service. Celebrating Bastille Day anywhere but in France or where you have a large French following would likely do you very little good.

#3 - Do Plan Ahead

[caption id="attachment_4496" align="alignright" width="300"]Our client, Dress Your Guests, used Valentine's day as the perfect opportunity to partner with another lifestyle blogger to increase their social reach. Our client, Dress Your Guests, used Valentine's day as the perfect opportunity to partner with another lifestyle blogger to increase their social reach.[/caption] You can’t dream up and execute a perfect holiday marketing plan overnight, so begin planning your timeline and strategy at least eight to twelve weeks in advance. It may seem bizarre to begin thinking about your Fourth of July marketing in early April, but the longer you have to plan your marketing concepts and company promotions, the more effective and successful they will be.

#4 - Don’t Go Overboard

A little bit of holiday cheer can go a long way. Don’t try to theme every facet of your business around the upcoming holiday. Instead, pick one or two marketing strategies that you can spice up with a holiday twist. Customers will better appreciate a Christmas E-card or a Halloween Facebook contest more if it’s a standalone promotion rather than part of a sweeping and epic holiday marketing plan. In fact, less is sometimes more. If your clients are being bombarded from every direction, especially if you are sending them daily emails, it’s likely that they will stop paying attention.
31 Jan

The State of Facebook Advertising in 2013

[caption id="attachment_2761" align="alignright" width="300"]View Spruce Media's report here. View Spruce Media's report here.[/caption] Facebook made some hugely innovative changes to the way it connects its ad publishing technology, brands who want to reach high quality customers, and the social network's diverse user base in 2012. It's looking as if 2013 will be just as promising as Facebook moves more deeply into search marketing, mobile advertising, targeting based on big data, and more innovative ways to include brand's pages, especially for local. As our small business clients start to consider changes to their budgets for advertising, we wanted to provide Spruce Meida's outlook on the state of Facebook advertising in 2013. Spruce Media is one of the largest ad-buying platform clients for Facebook, providing a network of tools for companies like ours use to buy large, convenient chunks of Facebook ad space in a variety of forms. Here's some of the most fascinating information we found in their report:
  • Goals in Facebook advertising for brands are transitioning from fan acquisiton (new likes) to engagement (views, likes of individual pieces of content, shares, comments, etc...)
  • The final quarter of 2012 demonstrated continued improvements to the Facebook ad algorithm. "Facebook is doing a great job of making sure that ads are shown to people who are most likely to be interested in them."
  • [caption id="attachment_2762" align="alignright" width="251"]Here's Spruce Media's expert "Facebook Marketing Cycle" techniques. Here's Spruce Media's expert "Facebook Marketing Cycle" techniques.[/caption] The most engaging place to serve ads continued to be the desktop-displayed newsfeed as opposed to mobile.
  • 42% of all enagement that occurs after people see a brand's Facebook Ads are photo views and 10% in video views. This further demonstrates the value that Facebook sees in Instagram, and the long term value that they're going to leverage from this recent aquisition.
  • The New Facebook Ad Network: ads off of Facebook on other websites
    • These ads will expand Facebook's reach of ad impressions into third-party websites and publishers.
    • Testing has been delayed further into later 2013
    • This network will create head-to-head competition with Google, fighting for publisher placement and opening themselves up to multiply revenues by as much as 3 times!
  • Graph Search: Facebook's new search tool
    • The first version of Graph Search focuses on four main areas: people, photos, places, and interests.
    • Content posted by brands will be discoverable in search results similarly to how brand's page content is currently showing up in the news feed, making future integration into Facebook search marketing seamless.
  • Facebook is by far the ad platform with the greatest amount of targeting data, making advertisements more productive.
  • The introduction of Graph Search demonstrates just one more reason that brands need to employ smart paid social media strategies and continue in investing on Facebook.
  • "We've reached a world in digital advertising where we aren't just talking about impressions, clicks and conversions, and we can speak about people, reaching them and exactly what they are doing."